On to 2020: Red Sox Starting Pitching Targets

(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

It ain’t over ’til it’s over. While the Boston Red Sox are 5.5 games back of the second wild card spot with four weeks to play, even a playoff run this season should show Dave Dombrowski that improvements need to be made to this team moving forward.

The offensive side of the baseball has been either on-par or even better in some categories compared to their 119-win World Series championship-winning 2018 squad. However, great baseball usually starts and ends with great pitching –– and the 2019 Red Sox have been suspect at best at either starting or finishing a ballgame.

Rick Porcello is the only pitcher on the MLB roster that is set to be a free agent next season, but the pitching staff is in need of a major overhaul.

Who could be on Dave Dombrowski’s radar?

Tanner Roark – RHP – Oakland A’s

2019 stats: 8-8, 4.04 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 140.1 IP, 26 GS, 2.3 fWAR

Roark is the type of pitcher that won’t blow you away with his numbers. However, since he became a full-time starter in 2016, Roark has made 119 starts –– averaging 5.98 innings per start in that span. Over those 712.0 innings, he has posted an ERA of 3.92, a FIP of 4.09, and an xFIP of 4.31.

It’s nothing special, but certainly worth looking into, considering only one Red Sox starter has a sub-4 ERA in 2019.

Roark eats innings and is very good at limiting damage when he gets into trouble. He will never be a guy who kills you as a starter, but he can certainly win the Red Sox some ballgames when the offense is struggling.

Michael Wacha – RHP – St. Louis Cardinals

2019 stats: 6-6, 5.07 ERA, 5.86 FIP, 4.86 xFIP, 110.0 IP, 19/24 GS, -0.3 fWAR

Remember the 2013 World Series? The St. Louis Cardinals rode the backs of two starting pitchers. One was an established veteran who had been a dominant arm for years, the other was this rookie right-hander who became a mainstay in the rotation by August.

While Wacha has posted an ERA of 3.93, as well as a career-FIP 3.96, he simply hasn’t become the heir to Adam Wainwright like Cardinals ownership had hoped for; and with Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, and Dakota Hudson seeming to have leapfrogged the seven-year veteran, there’s just no reason for St. Louis to re-sign the struggling right-hander.

However, the Red Sox are a very lefty-dominant rotation and are losing right-hander Rick Porcello to free agency this winter as it is. But on top of that, it’s all power-pitching in this rotation. There’s nobody in this rotation who can throw a wrinkle into things, and they’ve tried doing that with Porcello to some success in recent starts. Wacha has a higher ceiling and should come at a cheap price considering his performance has been lacking in 2019.

Jake Odorizzi – RHP – Minnesota Twins

2019 stats: 14-6, 3.61 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 4.54 xFIP, 142.0 IP, 27 GS, 3.4 fWAR

Much like Roark, Odorizzi is a good, not great starting pitcher. While he made his first All-Star Game this season with the Twins and has pieced together his best season since he was in Tampa Bay back in 2015, he has posted an ERA over four in each of the past two seasons.

He’s another innings eater, who’s going to strike out somewhere around nine guys per nine innings. The one big thing for him is that his average fastball velocity increased from 91.1 mph to 92.8 mph, thus making him that much more lethal.

He will probably be the most expensive arm on this list, but he also has been nothing short of stable and durable since he broke into the league in 2014.

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